Drysdale captures supreme Halberg Award

Two-times world single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale scored another double tonight when he captured the supreme prize at the 56th Halberg Awards announced tonight in Auckland.

The 28-year-old commerce graduate, who was earlier announced as the 2006 sportsman of the year, headed off the other category winners, Commonwealth Games gold medal shot put champion Valerie Vili (sportswoman) and the All Blacks (sports team) for the supreme Halberg award.

For Drysdale, tonight's triumphs were the culmination of 12 months of high achievement.

He defended his world single scull title in a world best time at Eton, won the Diamond Sculls at Henley, the long distance Armada Cup in Switzerland and the 11km Silverskiff in Turin in a course record.

Drysdale was presented with the supreme award by fellow rower, Rob Waddell, the multiple Olympic and world champion who is the only three-time winner of the award.

In the sportsman of the year category, Drysdale's rivals were swimmer Moss Burmester, speed skater Kalon Dobbin, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and runner Nick Willis.

Opposing Vili for sportswoman of the year were swimmer Hannah McLean, Black Ferns captain Farah Palmer and triathlete Sam Warriner.

The All Blacks won the sports team of the year award over challenges from the Black Ferns, Silver Ferns and yachtsmen Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams.

The first winner of the new emerging talent category was multi-talented North Harbour athlete Rebecca Spence.

Spence won the world junior duathlon and the world junior (under-18) cycling time trial last year.

The award is restricted to individual athletes aged under 21 and carries a $25,000 Westpac scholarship to the winner.

The other nominees for the award were motocrosser Katherine Prumm and rowers Graham Oberlin-Brown and Nathan Cohen (rowing).

All Blacks coach Graham Henry won the coach of the year category over netball's Ruth Aitken , swimming's Jan Cameron, athletics' Kirsten Hellier and rowing's Richard Tonks.

The awards function in Auckland also saw the induction of champion cyclist, Gary Anderson, into the New Zealand Hall of Fame.

Anderson is the first New Zealander from his code to win an Olympic medal, a bronze medal in the 4000m individual pursuit, at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

List of 2006 Halberg awards winners:

Supreme Award: Mahe Drysdale (rowing)

Sportsman of the year: Mahe Drysdale.

Sportswoman of the year: Valerie Vili (athletics).

Team of the year: All Blacks.

Coach of the year: Graham Henry (rugby).

Emerging talent award: Rebecca Spence (multisport)

- NZPA

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